Celebrities strode the red carpet for 96th Annual Academy Awards yesterday, while protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza shut down traffic outside the Dolby Theatre.

The Oscars, Hollywood’s biggest night, was marked by both the protests outside and inside, where some actors sported pro-Palestine badges and others mentioned the conflict in their speeches.

Oppenheimer swept up the biggest awards of the night, taking home Best Lead Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. It was a long-anticipated first win for director Christopher Nolan, who is now able to add Academy Award winner, after missing out previously with his films Memento, Inception and Dunkirk.

Cillian Murphy who has been a powerful force in the film industry for decades now, secured his first nomination and win for his role as J. Robert Oppenheimer in the film. He said backstage that he was “in a little bit of a daze, very overwhelmed, very humbled and proud to be Irish”. 

But the victory didn’t end there. The three-hour film also won in the categories of Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography and saw Robert Downey Jr. take home his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ wickedly quirky Poor Things also won big, with Emma Stone winning Best Lead Actress for her role as Bella Baxter in the film.

“I think I blacked out. I was very shocked. It is a huge honour. And I am very surprised,” she said, speaking with reporters backstage. This was Stone’s second win in the category, previously taking home the accolade in 2017 for her role as Mia in La La Land. The film also won Best Production Design, Best Costuming, and Best Makeup and Hair Styling.

Four Aussies were nominated for awards, but none are bringing any gold back Down Under. Nicky Bentham (The After)  and Sara McFarlane (Red, White and Blue) were nominated for Best Live Action Short Film Live Action. Tony McNamara was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work in Poor Things, and Margot Robbie was nominated for Best Picture for her producing role in Barbie.

Best Original Screenplay went to Justine Triet and Arthur Harari for Anatomy of a Fall, and Best Adapted Screenplay was won by Cord Jefferson for American Fiction. Both films only won in these categories, despite multiple nominations in major categories such as Leading Actress and Actor.

Surprisingly, Martin Scorcese’s Killers of the Flower Moon went home empty handed, despite 10 nominations, including some of the major categories. One of the most unexpected moments of the night came when Lily Gladstone lost her nomination for Best Leading Actress for her role as Mollie Burkhart. Many believed Gladstone was a shoo-in win for the Oscar and would make history as the first Native American woman to win the award.

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie only took home one accolade, with Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell winning Best Original Song.

Though Barbie was not being nominated for Best Lead Actress or Best Director, despite making history in the box office and having one of the largest social and cultural impacts of the year, the ‘Ken-ergy’ will live on. Ryan Gosling performed I’m Just Ken in iconic Mattel Barbie pink and had the whole room laughing.

“I genuinely do think I lost it during I’m Just Ken. That number blew my mind,” said Emma Stone later.

Many celebrities took the night as an opportunity to make their stance known on the continuing conflict in Gaza.

Billie Eilish, Ramy Youssef, and other stars sported a ceasefire pin to make it known that they are calling for an end of fighting and support for humanitarian aid entering Gaza.

Larger acts of physical protest occurred by members of the public outside the theatre which momentarily brought traffic to a halt, and led to late arrivals by Ariana Grande and Margot Robbie to name a few.

Following The Zone of Interest, a film about the Holocaust and Auschwitz, winning Best International Film (German), director Jonathon Glazer said in his acceptance speech: “Our film shows where dehumanisation leads at its worst. It’s shaped all of our past and present.

“Whether the victims of October 7th in Israel, or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanisation, how do we resist?” 

Main image of the Dolby Theatre by Walt Disney Television/Flickr.